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Us 30, Usda 22, China 13, Washington 8, U.s. 8, Tom Daschle 7, United States 7, America 7, Iowa 7, Africa 6, Syria 6, Brazil 5, Hagel 4, Virginia 3, Daschle 3, Cuba 3, Chuck Hagel 3, Vilsack 3, Russia 3, Panetta 3,
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  CSPAN    Public Affairs    News  News/Business.  

    February 21, 2013
    5:00 - 8:00pm EST  

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when he would pull everyone on the panel and to get them in the back and forth, engaged in discussion with very pointed questions so that we pulled out really important information about what we needed to to do ih enterprise. i learned so much from this man that it is just an honor to be here on stage with him. and of course, we are at the beginning of the second term for president obama. our great leader, tom bill sack -- vilsack, has an opportunity to share his visions for the second term. it does seem like it is sequester, sequester, sequester these days, and that does weigh heavily on our shoulders. we are plowing through and going to do great things in the second term. i am sure he is excited to share that with you. i also want to recognize that we have a lot of young people in the audience from the outlook
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forum student diversity program , now in its seventh year. 20 undergraduates, and for the first time, 10 graduate students, are here to gain insights into food and agriculture. so be sure to seek them out during the breaks. if you see them in the sessions , congratulate them for being here. mentor them a little over the course of a couple days. that would be great. i know how important these young people are, because i have an alumnus of this program, johnnie jones, who works in my office. these are the people who are going to lead american agriculture in the future. many thanks to our partner, the university of maryland, eastern shore, and the sponsors who make this possible, including the usda natural resources controversial and -- conservation service. students, can i ask you to
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stand, please? there we go. thank you. congratulations. without further ado, i am going to ask our chief economist to kick off this conference, with the traditional presentation on his economic and foreign trade outlook. joe has been our chief economist for 15 years. he was the deputy chief economist for 15 years before becoming the current chief economist. i know he is someone you rely upon, his analysis, for all the work you do, and is someone who has the trust of the secretary completely. so let us know what is going on. [applause]quick thanks very
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much, and thanks for enhancing that resume and letting me be chief economist for 15 years. it was good. i want to welcome everyone, and am delighted to see such a large crowd. he have had really great crowds the last few years. i think it is a tribute to jerry and the program committee , putting together such good programs. in my comments today, i am going to talk a little about the historic drought that affected agriculture this year. despite the drought, i think the aggie economy -- ag economy is very strong. far income, near record highs. a record high for 2012, and four 2000 13, projected cash income close to record highs. -- and for 2013, projected cash
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income close to record highs. low debt to asset ratio. assets at record highs. however, i think the aggregate measures belies some sharp differences between sect hers. -- sectors. despite the adverse weather, producers have fared well, with high prices and record crop insurance indemnity's, which helped offset the losses we saw this year. if you are in uninsured or underinsured former, -- farmer, crop losses are hitting those producers a little more than those who have insurance. and if you are a livestock, dairy, and poultry producer, this is the third year since 2007 when we have seen record high prices, with the effects that has on higher feed costs, tight margins. and we have seen, particularly on the capital side, some liquidation. -- the cattle side, some
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liquidation. 2013, we were expecting a rebound in yields. we should see record production of soybeans. that means lower prices and improved property to ability -- improved profitability toward the end of the year for livestock, dairy, and poultry producers. if you think i am just taking the 2012 outlook and rereading it, it does look similar. we came in with low stocks this year. we were expecting record crops. we know what happened. there is a lot of uncertainty in these markets, one of the reasons we wanted to focus on risk in this outlook conference. as i go through the charts, i will focus on some of these aspects. first, let us go for the next for picture. exports, as i said, are forecast at a record 100 $42
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billion for fiscal year 2013. -- a record $142 billion for fiscal year 2013. >> the first three months of this year, $43 billion and asked for its -- in exports. that is what we were exporting annually in the early 1990's. tremendous growth since 2005. imports are forecast up to $112.5 billion, to mean assay trade balance almost $30 billion, at $29.5 billion. for the second year in a row, china is our major export destination. since two thousand five, exports to china have been growing by 25% annually -- since 2005, exports to china
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have been growing by 25% annually. no surprise, it is dominated by soybeans and cotton. they have accounted, in recent years, as much as 3/4 of trade to china. if you look at the minor, but still large other exports, for things like coarse grains, corn , feeds and funders, distiller dried grains, or red beets -- red meats, those are showing impressive growth figures as well. in terms of overall exports, values are up for most of the commodity categories. these are exports on a fiscal year basis. you can see that up for most of these categories, with the exception being corn. these are price-driven events.
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we see volumes up for some categories. for most of the individual commodity categories, we are seeing lower volume. the drought is having some effect. for most commodities, that is being offset by higher prices, whose values are up. the big difference, obviously, is corn. it is striking that we are down 38%. on a fiscal year basis, what that has meant is, we are currently forecasting our corn exports at the lowest level since the early 1970's. i think 1971. a dramatic increase in corn exports, such that, if you look at where we are relative to the rest of the world, corn, as many of you know, for many years, the u.s. was and have historically been the number one exporter of corn.
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years ago, we had 80% of that market. that has declined in recent years, particularly since 2007, 2007, as we have seen an increase in corn used for ethanol production. particularly, with the drought, lowest since the early 1970's. because of increased growth of production and southern hemispheres and brazil in particular, we are likely to be the number two exporter, at least on a fiscal year basis. we would like to see crops rebound this year. but because of unusual circumstances this year, a record crop in brazil, and a poor crop here in the u.s., we will likely see brazil being the number one exporter, at least for fiscal 2013.
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let us turn to the commodity balance sheets. there is no question, much like last year, we are coming in with very low stocks, globally, for most commodities. if you look at wheat, because of problems in the black sea region and southern europe, we production was down this year. -- wheat reduction was down this year. we know that corn, the last few
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years, very low stock levels. our projected carried out for the current crop year -- if you look at it globally, we are at the lowest stocks used ratio since 1973-1974. that is just to say it has been an unusual year, the last couple of years for corn. it has been drawn down by poor weather in the states last year. particularly because of the drought this year. soybeans, low stocks. we have had problems with the us -- u.s. soybean crop because of the drought. brazil still looks good, but drought in argentina has a lot of analysts looking at those
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numbers. the one exception here is cotton. cotton, in terms of stocks, has increased dramatically over the last couple of years. what that is being driven by, largely, is china. china, because of policies to support producers, have been acquiring a lot of grain. excuse me -- a lot of cotton. you can see that cotton stocks have been increased substantially in china. they currently account for over 50% of total world inventories. on a commodity basis, stocks as percent of use in china is someone hundred 20%. -- some 120%. a lot of analysts wonder how sustainable that is. china is a large importer of cotton for its textile mills.
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certainly, with this sort of stock level overhanging the market, i think this will lead to some uncertainty in the cotton market, as we move forward into this year. let us turn to planning -- plantings. obviously, we are expecting to continue strong plantings, certainly for grains and oil seeds. some new land is coming out of crp. this shows the amount of acres that came out of crp this past fall. around 2.5 million acres, most of that in northern plains. you can see by the coloration of the charts, a lot of the area is coming out of some of the dakotas, where a lot of that area first went in, in the mid-1980's. this has been historically wheatland. over the past 10 years, a lot of corn and soybeans creeping up
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in those areas. turning to the planted acres, last year, i think the combined acreage for corn, wheat, and soybeans was some 240 million acres. excuse me -- 230 million acres. certainly, we have seen some of the largest corn planting since the 1930's. we expect this year for corn to be very strong again. because of strong prices, many were able to get in corn. perfect planning conditions. of course, the world turned ugly in june, as the rain stopped in
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a lot of key states. this year, we expect planning to be very strong. it favors soybeans a little bit more than it did a few months ago. as we move toward march, when we put out are planning numbers at the end of march, this is something certainly to look at. we should see some decline in cotton. that is no surprise. we have seen surveys which suggests that. -- suggest that. about yield, this is where most analysts are directing their attentions. if you look at the drought monitor, and they are saying few of you have not looked at the drought monitor, if you
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follow these markets closely, we still have significant drought in the central plains. the good news is, if you were to look at this map six months ago, we would have seen significant drought in illinois, indiana, and western kentucky. that has improved a lot. the forecast suggests some improvement. more improvement creeping into the western corn belt. the planes still look like they have a persistent -- plains still look like they have a persistent dryness. that has an impact on the winter crop. in kansas, oklahoma, and nebraska, currently about 50% of that area, doing a weighted average, looking at state crop conditions reports -- 50% of that is in poor or very poor condition.
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spring rains are going to be very critical to see how that crop improves. otherwise, i think we could be facing some serious abandonment issues for the winter crops. rain is obviously critical. what about for the other crops? what we are looking at, at least in our analysis, is a return to trend yields. i think tomorrow's commodity sessions will have a session -- a paper on our yield models, and how we incorporate weather in those yield models. i think both of these would result in having record crops for corn and soybeans this year. dramatic improvement, particularly for corn. last year, we lost four billion
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bushels. we are expecting to rebound on that amount this year. one area where there is concern, and we are participating-- anticipating higher abandonment for the hard red winter area. the soft red portion looks to be better. hopefully, there would be some rebound there, in terms of yields. i think we have seen some improvement. just four or five months ago, as a percent of total production and grout, dax-- and drought, we
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10% improvement in the last couple of months. if you look at the data, there is little correlation between rainfall in one year and in the next year. studies have shown that. going into this year, i do not think there is reason to think necessarily that we are going to be looking at a poorer crop. there are questions about yield drag because of low subsoil moisture. tomorrow, we will go through that in more detail. i will show you a real one fish economist thing here. -- wonkish economist thing here. i looked at preseason moisture in iowa. i looked at projected yields in iowa, trend yields relative to
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what we just saw later that year. there is very little direct correlation to your -- direct correlation. some of the yields on that part of the draft or -- draft are years you remember. 1998 was a low subsoil year. last year was down a little bit. you also see years we have low subsoil levels. we had record, far above trend. the last thing i want is a clip saying "no relationship between drought and yields." obviously, there is a relationship. it is just to say we will be following this carefully.
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at least at this point in time, there is no reason to think we will not be looking at normal yields. again, the proof will be obviously, as we look into spring. as we all know, for corn, the critical month is july, as it always is, in terms of precipitation and temperature. from 2006 through 2012, we saw corn used for ethanol increase by almost 700 million bushels annually. it dropped -- it topped bushels in corn use for 2010, 2011, 2012.
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what this chart shows our weekly ethanol production numbers from energy information administration. i have analyzed them, so you get a feel for what they look like, and for an entire year. meeting for the renewable fuel standard, i can see from mid- summer, most weekly numbers annualized have been below the caps. we have reduced our annual corn use for ethanol numbers by 10% last year. while we expect with a record crop that that will rebound a bit, we are still calling for, as we look forward to 2013, 2000 14 -- we are still calling for
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about 4.67 5 billion bushes of corn going into ethanol use. the problems are actually on the demand side. use of ethanol for gasoline -- gasoline consumption was close to 40 billion bushels for 2011- 2013. for penetration, and that gives you 15 billion bushels. instead of that, however, we have seen, because of high
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prices, gasoline prices, the recession, and energy efficiencies or fuel efficiencies -- increased fuel efficiencies -- gasoline consumption has declined. that green line is what the energy information administration was rejecting from ethanol for gasoline use in 2008. in the out years, improved fuel efficiencies and a lot of other assumptions. some decline. the most important thing is what is going on over the next three or four years. with some decreases.
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i think this is a very important piece of the puzzle, at least the outlook puzzle that we have seen. particularly compared to where we were in 2007, when we were talking about year-over-year increases, this is at least, for the next few years, flattening out corn use for ethanol, and will be an important factor in that market. let me get to the crisis and move over to incomes, and start wrapping up. we should see some significant fall on prices with these record crops. this is not unlike what i was saying last year, and with these sorts of things. he are projecting corn prices, season average prices, below five dollars, a big drop from where we are. we prices to come down as well. soybeans down.
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some improvement for rice and cotton. domestic balance sheets should tighten up a bit. that is obviously going to improve feed margins. declining feed ratios do not necessarily mean problems. i think there is no question, since 2007, with the three big try spikes, we know there have been problems at various times with the livestock, dairy, and poultry sectors. certainly, we have seen tight margins.
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these are all very high prices for, i think, meat and poultry and dairy markets. what i think will be the real benefit to this sector will be lower prices on the feed side at the end of the year. hopefully, i think the critical thing, with the problems the cattle sector had -- we lost 3.4 over the last four years in kansas, oklahoma, and texas alone. the rest of the nation was pretty constant, losses and gains offsetting. in the southern plains, the drought in texas two years ago and this past year, has affected cattle. we know that 60% of the pastor in this country, over the -- the past year -- the pasture in
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this country over the summertime, was in drought. we could unfortunately see further liquidation. what this means for food prices -- we will see some transmission of these higher prices, higher livestock prices , in particular into higher food prices. currently rejecting food inflation to increase by three percent or four percent. -- 3% or 4%. there is a session on that later today. if you look at the most recent month, december -- in fact, a report came out today, which i do not have the numbers for. our current levels of inflation, very low. 3.4%, year-over-year, for the
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most recent month. ers is forecasting three percent to four percent for 2013. high, but not nearly as high as what we saw in 2008, or what we saw in 2011. as i mentioned at the outset, ers numbers on net cash income, net farm income -- net cash income down a bit this year, at $323 .5 billion -- $323.5 billion. we recorded a record in 2012. record receipts the last couple of years -- just phenomenal. a doubling of receipts over the
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last 10 or 12 years. we have also seen high expenses. some of that has been feed. feed is a critical component for the livestock markets. looking at net cash incomes, ers looks at farm businesses. these are sort of average farm and business data that ers. of their survey. for livestock, another year where we have seen some decline. we have seen very back, not quite as low as what we saw in 2009.
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the real story on the livestock issues, i think, is, can we get through the next few months, particularly on the pasture issues and other things, to get into late summer, early fall, where we should start seeing feed prices come down that would help profitability return to the sector? let me wrap up. let me say this sounds like déjà vu, one of those dejas. you have heard this before. admittedly, very similar to our forecast last year. i think, obviously, the big issue -- the critical factor that people will be following, is the weather. with drought in the nation continuing and a lot of the country, there will be a lot of
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people concerned about the weather. there will be a lot of people watching it carefully. at least in." data suggests a return to more normal yields as we move into spring. -- at least in." -- at least empirical data suggests a return to more normal yields as we move into spring, which should help moderate prices and improve profitability for these sectors. [applause]>> let me introduce my boss. many of you know his story. if not, here it is. he started as a law is in iowa, -- as a lawyer in iowa, helping small towns through the farm
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crisis in the 1970. tragedy hit in his small town, and he became mayor. fast forward he became a two- term governor in the great state of iowa. a candidate for president of the united states. and then our secretary of agriculture. he has been giving some tough love talks across the country. tough in that he has pointed out some issues we need to grapple with, in terms of political relevance, and how we make sure that people inside the beltway and across our great country understand the importance of what goes on in rural america. i say tough love, because he does so with passion. he does so with finding ways to entice young people to careers
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in american agriculture. he is the hardest working secretary of agriculture we ever had. ladies and gentlemen, welcome him to the stage. >> thank you for your leadership on a number of issues. this is become an integral part of not just this conference, but agriculture and opportunity in rural america. her work has really made a difference in this direct to consumer sales opportunity, which is now a multibillion -- multibillion dollar heart of agriculture. it is amazing. every year, we come here. every year, you give the same damn speech. [laughter]but it could be worse,
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right? i particularly want to thank senator dashiell for spending a few minutes with it today. folks in washington, and the. c -- washington, d.c., and around the country -- we are really pleased to have you. everywhere i walk, i see these big posters. we are seeing expanding exports,
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and an expansion beyond biofuels. we are making more chemicals, fabrics, and fibers. we have the local and regional food system expansions. we see record farm income, record conservation, even more excitement from young people about agriculture. the other day, i was in iowa. a young lady came up to me and said she wanted to thank usda for the work it has been doing recently. i appreciate that. i assumed she was going to talk about record farm income or record exports. what she wanted to thank us for
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was that in the 1980's, when she went to school, and majored in agriculture and got her advanced degree, she said she was a bit humbled, and sort of embarrassed, when she would tell her friends and family what she was doing. but because of what has been happening in agriculture today, a cousin of the activities of usda and of the folks in this room, -- because of the activities of usda and the folks in this room, she said agriculture is cool again. people are excited about future careers in agriculture. things seem to be going in the right direction. i began to make the list of all the things we should be concerned about. what don't on the wise, normally, when you talk about agriculture -- what dawned on me is, normally, when you talk
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about agriculture, you talk about the weather, these you may not have control over. the risks, in many cases today, are man-made. let me give you a few examples. there is risk in the uncertainty, with reference to budgets and the impending sequester, to agriculture. you all know that march 1 will come. if it comes before congress has acted, the sequester will be triggered. what that will mean for usda is , virtually every line item of our budget will be reduced by a certain percentage. that percentage could be somewhere in the neighborhood of five percent to six percent. that is an annual percentage. that means we have to implement this reduction in the remaining portion of the fiscal year, which will be approximately six months. that means it is really the impact of a 10% to 12%
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reduction of our remaining resources. unlike normal circumstances, where congress will ask you to reduce funding, but give you flexibility to choose where and how, this is a direct prescription from congress to reduce every line item by the same percentage. if you are fortunate to be in an agency or part of the department that has >> ability -- has fles xibility, good. in food safety, you have very few lines, and most involve people in labor. you have very little recourse. that is a risk that we now face. because the only way we can absorb the cut of this magnitude is by impacting the people who work in the food safety area of usda. and we all know that when we do that, it does not just impact those workers. it impacts all the processing facilities and plants and production facilities across
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the country. there is a way to resolve this. tongass can give you flexibility, and say we did not mean every line item across the board, with no flexibility, in six months. or they can come up with a larger deficit reduction package that would avoid sequester. but if they fail to act, then we are required by law to invoke the sequester. if we spend money we do not have, there are civil and possibly criminal penalties associated with that. we take our job very seriously at usda. it is something we do not want to do. it may be something we have to do. this is a risk that is man-made. the same thing is true on march 27. march 27 cons if congress has not continued the budget
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process, and provided a continuation of the continuing resolution, or passed a budget. theoretically, all government activity stops. that, of course, would impact our trade promotion efforts, food safety, our ability to provide credit to farmers right at the time they had to finalize the credit opportunities to put their crop in the ground. this is another risk that is man-made and could be avoided. there is a risk associated with not having a five-year farm bill. we know the senate passed a farm bill last year. we know the house agricultural committee passed a farm bill last year. but it did not get done. that now creates uncertainty as to what the safety net will be for farmers who are faced with the drought or the conditions that joe just talked about, who are, through no fault of theirs, facing economic disaster.
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because we do not have a farm bill, as livestock producers that were hurt so badly in 2012, were not afforded the possibility to have the kind of disaster assistance that was in effect the year before. they now face a financial risk that is man-made. we need a farm bill. i like to refer to it as a food, farm, and jobs bill. we need to have certainty about what the safety net should be for our farm families. after all, they provide this country with some extraordinary security. we are a nation that can feed itself. make no mistake about this -- this is not something to be taken for granted. many, many countries around the world cannot say that. it makes us a stronger and more secure nation, brought to us by american farmers, ranchers, and producers. they need a safety net.
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if we are to build this rural economy, and create economic opportunity for young people raising families in a small community, we have to increase our commitment to a bio economy, where everything we grow can be used to produce virtually everything we need in our economy. it is how you strengthen and build a middle class and rural america. get back to the business of making, creating, and innovating. you cannot continue to see the expansion of local and regional food systems, and the opportunities in wirral areas, unless you have a five-year program. you certainly cannot resolve significant trade disputes, including the one we have had with brazil over cotton, which could potentially jeopardize us
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in this country with the application of serious penalties, without a five-year food, farm, and jobs bill. those are risks in today's agricultural world that can be resolved by congress doing its job and getting a bill passed. then, there is the uncertainty of labor, another man-made issue. agriculture relies, to a great extent, on immigrant labor. everybody in this room understands and appreciates that a good deal of that labor is not necessarily in this country legally. and that has been the case for a long time. this is a risk to agriculture, and we are beginning to see the implications of that risk, because we have had crops grown last year that could not be harvested, or cause there simply were not enough hands to pick them. it is important and necessary that we have immigration reform , that we create a system in
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this country that understands and appreciates the importance of immigrant labor, and respects it. that creates a comprehensive set of reforms. that secures our border. that creates responsibilities on those who are here illegally, to pay a fine, to pay back taxes, to learn the language, and then creates an opportunity for these folks to be here legitimately, so they can provide the labor and work that is necessary for our producers, so we in this country can continue to enjoy the extraordinary diversity of agriculture that we have. and that we can continue to afford the luxury of having some of the least expensive food in the world. despite joe's report about food inflation, three percent and four percent, that is more of a normal rate of inflation. we still enjoy the fact that less than 10% of our paychecks
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are spent on food. go to most other developed or developing nations, you are going to pay 15%, 50% of your paycheck for food. not only does the system here create this enormous diversity, and this great food security we enjoy, but it comes to us at an affordable price. but there is a risk, if we do not have comprehensive immigration reform. it is a man-made risk that can be resolved. then, the uncertainty of trade barriers, created by other nations. right now, we are dealing with a decision made by russia to impose a ban as a result of the use here of wrecked help a mean -- of a chemical. it is not scientifically based, and is contrary to international law. the trade office and our office
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have stated clearly it is our expectation that russia will reverse that decision. that is another risk to the livestock industry that is man- made. fortunately, we got some good news yesterday, as a scientific commission from oie, has indicated that the u.s. can now be considered a low risk nation for bse. that will further be confirmed this summer. we got further good news with opening of markets, particularly for our beef. last month, we talked about the opportunity japan is now finding for a wider market in japan, which is good news. we have seen korea, and the opportunity that presents. we have seen mexico reduce its restrictions. hong kong will join that list, by taking boned beef project --
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products of any age, and bone -- in beef -- bone-in beef of less than 30 months. but these barriers still exist. which is why it is necessary when you have the resources and ability and personnel to continue to advocate for american farmers and ranchers all over the world. as these barriers are constructed, we have to tear them down. those are all risks that we face in agriculture today, that are all man-made. these are resolved by congress and the international community, following science and rules. there are, however, risks we cannot control. joe talked about the drought. following the consequences of the drought last year, the president directed us to create a drought task force, made up of all federal agencies, to try to
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mitigate the impacts and effects of drought. that led us to begin thinking at usda about steps we can take to help producers during a difficult time. we took a series of steps to try to mitigate the consequences. we opened up crp land, and changed premium payments, things of that nation -- that nature. it also got us thinking -- were there other steps, other things we should be doing, to provide help and assistance? it occurred to us perhaps we should be focused more acutely on the need to encourage multi- cropping through the united states, in order for us to do a better job of conservation, to create biomass that could be a revenue source, and to potentially allow us to conserve precious water resources, which would in turn allow us to get through these drought circumstances in a more
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favorable circumstance. we have begun a process of looking at ways in which we could provide assistance. you will be fortunate to hear from a fellow by the name of david rant, who -- brant, who has a no till nutrient management system he has put in place since the 1970s, that enjoys multi--- involves multi- cropping" then. it saves about $100 an acre on nitrogen. it has increased its corn yield seven to 10 bushels an acre. that is something that ought to get everyone's attention. at usda, we ought to be looking at ways we could reduce the man- made barriers to multi-cropping , so that that could be another strategy for managing risk, recognizing there are different types of multi-cropping,
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whether it is double crops, or an integrated livestock arrangement, or for a street. we will spend time better looking at crop insurance programs that discourage multi- cropping, looking at the effect on the yield of primary crops, and the supply chain and delivery system, so we can encourage more of this activity. we will use our grant money to provide some financial assistance. we intend to develop an atlas that will provide producers a lot of information about what currently is working in multi- cropping arrangements around the country. there are great examples. we will provide information on the steps to reduce those
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barriers that we have created within usda. and we hope that we will do a better job of improving our communication about the conservation benefits that will come from multi-cropping, and give us yet another tool to deal with a changing agriculture, and managing the risk of weather. as we started thinking about multi-cropping, it occurred to us we have a diverse agriculture in this country. there are different production systems that people want to use. some folks might want to use ge technology. some might want to go a conventional way. some people might want to be organic reducers. it is important for us to recognize and to respect all production processes, and to make sure everybody has the opportunity to choose the type of operation that is best for their family and themselves.
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that is why we put together a group of folks, and we challenge them to think about how we could create a system and support in this country, were different production processes could coexist in the same geographic area, recognizing that this is a tough question, and that there are passions on all sides of this issue. we put 22 people in a room for about a year and a half. they have great leadership from russell redding. these folks worked really hard to come to a set of recommendations and conclusions. they basically modeled what we ought to be doing in this town more frequently, which is coming together and figuring out where the common ground is, where the moderate middle is. they came up with a series of recommendations through what we call the ac 21 committee. we are posting on our website the next steps in that process, so we can tell those 22 folks who worked hard that we are following their recommendations.
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we can't help producers of all types that there are ways we can provide help and reduce the risks that may be associated with different production processes trying to live in the same space. you are going to engage in research and look at ways in which we can create measures to strengthen this notion of coexistence. we need to know how often there may be circumstances where crops are compromised as a result of activities in other areas. we are going to do case studies, and will better understand from those case studies exactly what the challenges and barriers are to this notion of coexistence. we hope to be able to develop best practices, to be able to provide information, so as folks are looking at coexistence plans or stewardship efforts, they will know precisely what
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works best. we are going to create a competitive grant. that grant will basically fund a conference that will be held this year. we will bring experts in to discuss information about gene flow, so we have a better understanding of precisely what happens, and can mitigate the risk that could be damaging to someone else's crop. we will continue to look at ways in which we can indemnify or compensate those who may have suffered an economic loss. we are going to have nas review its data to have a better idea of how to price organic crops. there is a premium associated. they are, in a sense, a different commodity. some of the normal practices, normal surveying techniques, may not work quite as well for organics as they do for conventional agriculture. that will give us enough information to do a better job in terms of how to set up insurance policies and programs for these organic crops.
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and we will focus on seed quality. this spring, we will launch for the first time the national genetic advisory council. we will be tasking that counsel with looking at how we can evaluate the availability of non-ge seed for producers who might be working and producing in ge-sun city work -- ge- sensitive markets. we will look at monitoring, maintaining the. t of publicly held germ classes, because there is concern about that. -- the purity of publicly-held germ classes, because there is concern about that. as will mitigate the risk associated when folks want to do things a little bit differently, in the same general space. it is part of managing risk. the long-term risk we will face,
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with a changing climate -- i will conclude with this. there is no question that the climate is changing. we recently furnished to assessments from usda on the impact of changing climates on agriculture and forestry. the conclusions were pretty obvious. higher temperatures lead to more intense weather patterns. more intense weather patterns lead to greater stress for crops and livestock. and increase tree mortality. we at usda have a responsibility to figure out ways in which we can mitigate the risks of something we really cannot control. when it happens, we cannot control when a drought occurs. we cannot control when a horrible tornado hits, or when flooding occurs. but we can take steps to mitigate the impacts and effects of that. here is what we have done, and here is what we are going to do.
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we released this year the first usda climate change adaptation plan, and we are outlining practical steps that can be taken right now to reduce this risk. we are expanding forecasting, so we have that her models to give people a better sense of what happens with intense weather patterns, which are a risk we need to control. we are going to win sent and increase our in soil health management, creating systems for farmers and ranchers they might be interested in. we are going to have rma work with his partners to create a web portal that will provide information on climate and weather. in turn, we will have enhanced ability to adjust losses more quickly and accurately. we have challenged the forest service to begin incorporating practical applications for mitigation and adaptation strategies for our management --
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planning and management system work. the next steps require developing a roadmap. we want to provide practical advice to our farmers and ranchers, in ways in which they can reduce risk through the use of their property. we want to provide better support materials, so that they can create techniques and technologies that will allow them to mitigate the impact. we saw this with the drought. it is amazing. despite the drought, we still had a relatively large corn crop, even the extent and severity of the drought last year. the reason is the technology and the techniques our farmers used. we need to better support climate change research. we need to make sure we have resources going into this research, so we can provide you with the information that allows you to manage this risk. we need to improve our outreach and extension, so the outreach
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we have, and our ability to provide help and assistance, we will be able to do this by organizing the effort perhaps around regional hubs where we will recognize the difference of climate and the difference that climate task on various crops that are grown in different parts of the united states. we understand and appreciate that different regions have different needs. we will be very aggressive in this effort. we appreciate and understand after the floods of 2011 and the drought of 2012 the folks need assistance and help. by taking these actions, hopefully we can mighty gate and manage risk. manage risk.d rural america as a result of most of the farming and ranching and production that explains in rural america, it is the number
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one place for food production in this country. it is the number one place for most of the water that is consumed everywhere. it is the number one place for the production of energy of whatever source -- oil, natural gas, or renewals. it is the source of a number of those loser bus bravely in our military -- of those who bravely serve in our military. people in those places require us to do everything we can to allow them to continue to help us become a stronger and more secure nation. they will be able to deal with weather related risks. they have historically. what they need is for us in
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washington, d.c. to act, cooperate, to agree, to compromise, and to get the process so we are not faced with budget uncertainty. we need to have a five-year farm row graham that provides a strong safety net -- program that provides a strong safety net and greater economic growth. we need to continue to knock down trade barriers. we need to resolve farm labor issues with eight deep immigration law. -- with a deep immigration law. we at usda will do everything we can to make that happen. we need you engaged in this process and encourage those in congress to help us to help you. we want to continue to make ever culture: -- agriculture cool.
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agriculture is the answer to the moral dilemma of our times. hardly feed our populations as resources become scarce? --how do we feed our populations as resources become scarce? we need to mitigate the impacts of climate change. we need a new -- it will help spur an american economy that is focused on innovating and growing and manufacturing and exporting. that is why this is important. the long-term security and safety of this nation is absolutely dependent on managing these risks we have identified today. it is that important for this country.
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you all can help. one man who understands this better than most is tom daschle. i can say a lot of things about tom daschle. i can talk about his military career in the air force. i can talk about his service in the house of representatives and his extraordinary leadership in the senate. the only person to serve as a majority and minority leader. i have said a lot about this man in terms of what his counterparts thought of him. i prefer to talk about tom daschle the father and grandfather. i think you can tell the measure of a man or a woman by the children. tom has got her a great kids. i have had the pleasure of knowing -- tom has got three great kids. i had the pleasure of knowing all of them. his daughter is an award-winning journalist.
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his son nathan is a social entrepreneur. his daughter lindsay, my favorite -- he cannot say that -- works that usda. she did an extraordinary job of helping to lead a first ever effort called the rural council when president obama established a council of all federal agencies that is involved in rural america. lindsay basically led that effort. she left usda because you had a call to help kids in trouble -- because she had a call to help kids in trouble. she is pursuing work in social work. three great kids, four great- grandchildren. that says a lot about tom daschle. he will share with you today his insights. i saw him the other day at a
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lunch in a restaurant in washington, d.c. what impressed me the most was that virtually no one entered that restaurant without stopping at his table. we are fortunate to have them here today durin. ladies and gentlemen, tom daschle. [applause] >> thank you. it is so nice to be with all of you and be here this morning. only at a conference or dealer for speakers by 9 a.m. -- can you hear four speakers by 9 a.m. tom gave an eloquent and powerful analysis of the risks we face in agriculture, man-made and natural. it is a reminder yet again of the extraordinary leadership that we have in our agriculture
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today. i consider him a very dear friend. an unparalleled public servant. someone that i admire for so many reasons, but in particular because of his mentorship of that young daughter of mine, lindsay. i thank him for all he does not only for my family, but for all of us in each and every day. i also want to thank to other people for their awful presentations to date. -- thoughtful recitationspresens today. talk about dedicated servants with selfless determination. you have freedom writer at this table. i'm honored to be part of this program -- you have freedom right at this table. i'm honored to be part of this
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program. [applause] being here, i'm reminded of an open door meeting that i had in a rural part of south dakota. several years ago, in small towns, we do not have choice when it comes to where we meet. it is often times in the local café/bar. i used to hold public meetings. i know tom has done them in iowa for many years. and this particular open-door meeting, someone interrupted me. i have a question! he had been at the bar for most of the day. i could tell that by the way he started his question. tell me, tom daschle, what is the difference between a democrat and a republican? sir, when you are sober, i will give you an answer to that question. , i dod, when i'm sober
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not give a damn. [laughter] the truth is, we should care. agriculture is not republican or democratic. it is not partisan at all. rather than divide us, it should unite us. as i look over this crap, i say unity among all of you. -- see unity among all of you. we have a special term in dakota -- i was very fortunate to spend 30 years on these issues in congress. i've attempted to put rural americas agenda wil on the natil agenda. since i left the senate, i'm reminded of agricultural issues. food security issues. it is that the prairie's edge.
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these are national issues. they are global issues. today farming and food security are beginning to receive the attention that they deserve. president obama has launched a new alliance for food security and nutrition with the goal of raising 50 million people out of poverty in the next decade alone. farmers are having their own online dating service. the most talked about super bowl commercial, courtesy of the late harvey, was a heartwarming tribute to the american farmer. what is that kenny chesney song? thinks my tractor is sexy"
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? if not sexy, increasingly critical and increasingly important. i'm glad to be here. it is appropriate that we are here today. it turns out that it was february 21, 1565 -- 1865 -- i will not easily pop quiz. -- give you a pop quiz. it could've easily been labeled one of the most important inventions in history. they called it the plow that broke the plains, and it did.
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by replacing cast iron with smooth innovation, it opened up swaths of land for cultivation. it made it possible for my hometown to exist. beforehand, tilling an acre took a full 24 hours. afterward, as little as five. every toil ended another assumption of what the land could produce. it is not just the start of agricultural success, but of national success. this kind of game changing innovation has enabled us to leap ahead and increase harvest and feed the whole world.
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sometimes these innovations come from the most advanced science. other times they are simple steps and ideas that come from looking at and listening closely to the problem. all of them can break down barriers to food security. it can allow us to allow new paths of progress. we need those new pathways forward. take a look at a few recent headlines. "drought and mississippi impacts everything from livestock to d eer." "food shortages could force the world into vegetarians." "patent endings raises new biotech issues." "global crop production shows signs of stagnant."
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"could you change be al qaeda's restaurant in africa -- good climate change be all qaeda's best friend in africa?" i could go on. when a think of the factors that make up the perfect storm, i'm reminded of what mark twain reportedly observed. by land, they're not making it anymore. wain was right. we need to do more land that we still have. every year 7 billion of us on earth use dayquil that of a plan
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and a half of resources. -- the equivalent of a planet and a half of resources. by the year 2050, there will be mouths tollion more him mout feed, many in the developing world. that is not sustainable. to keep up with the rising demand, we have to increase global food production 70% by this century. as assistant secretary of state josé fernandez says, that is producing as much food in the next 50 years as we produce in the last 1000. think about that for a minute. between now and the time a grand kids are old enough to attend usda conferences on their own, we will have had to groan as
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much food as we did as the dawn of recorded history. -- grown as much food as we did as the dawn of recorded history. compounding the problem is effects of the changing climate. anyone who works close to the land can plainly see -- what is up with the weather? that is a fair question. last year was the hottest on record in the u.s. with massive summer droughts. more than half of u.s. counties were primary national disaster areas. we witnessed extreme flooding throughout asia and devastating s in the horn -- devastating droughts in the horn of africa.
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deep freezes have given way to destructive fires. food organizations are warning egypt.ge locusts in talk about disasters of typical proportions -- biblical proportions. you cannot make this stuff up he. -- theationa natural disasters government is facing a brutal fiscal crunch. some might believe that warmer temperatures may benefit agriculture, but it does not look that way in the long run. .rop yields are down everyone degree -- for every degree increase -- climate change is project died o
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degrade up to 1/5 of the developing world. this is a regrettable oversight. we are not invested enough to improve agriculture productivity. right when a growing population and a warming climate requires to do more with less. here at home, as the secretary just said, the shortsighted to school policy are leaving us -- fiscal policy are asking us to slash land grants. we are spending less on agricultural r&d in low income countries. as an 2008, 3.5 alien dollars are agricultural investments in the developing world are less than half -- $3.5 million of
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agricultural investments in the developing world are less than half. especially from the private sector, there remains a $79 billion difference annually between what we invest in low and middle income countries and what they need to feed their people. this level of investment will not cut in places like africa. even while the population is expected to triple by the end of the century. it is a perfect storm of pitfalls and challenges. if you look closely at your programs, you will see my name listed as thomas daschle. i'm not here to preach doom and gloom. i'm something of an optimist. i think anyone who has three
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decades in political life has to be an optimist. [laughter] weathering the perfect storm is possible if only we have the wisdom and the will power to rethink our approach. what do i mean by that? i know that a lot of you are very familiar with the four h's. these are what a number of folks consider the four d's of global involvement and engagement. defense, diplomacy, democracy, development. food security is essential to each and every one of those four d's. consider the first of these factors which is the state of
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our national defense. our national security is to a very large content contingent on our food security. hunger and poverty triggers political instability and threatens mobile security around the globe -- threatens global security around the globe. this was made clear in 2007 and 2000 and eight. -- 2008. a changing climate led to rising prices and rights around the world. it is a leading cause of global instability. 70% of the globe's water. eating people is a great way to use those resources. -- feeding people is a great way to use those resources. we need a strong national
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defense. it is not just food and water security. agriculture is mostly playing a critical role in our energy security as well. last week, it is highlighted the importance of biofuels and straight and meet our energy independence -- and strengthening our energy independence. as you all know, former secretary of defense leon panetta was a vocal advocate for diversifying our military' energy resources. from biofuel drones to a green fleet, i expect similar policies to continue from chuck hagel when he is confirmed hopefully next week. for these reasons, i have been a long supporter of renewable fuels.
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i encourage the development of an industry that is important to our national security and does well as to our economy. whether we are talking food or water or energy security, in the future, more crops in the field can mean fewer soldiers in the field. at the same time, as important as the defense capabilities are , we need to rebalance toward the other three d's. we spend more on defense than on diplomacy, democracy, and development altogether. meanwhile, china has more than doubled its investments in developing new agricultural technologies. those of the kinds of farsighted policies that enable china emerge as a world power
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and which we need to get back to. as we shift our focus on resources toward a smarter and more constructive form of international interaction, it is radical that food security remain at the center of shaping -- it is critical that food security remain at the center of shaping this world. feed the future initiative, initiatives like this focus on solutions to enable countries to take ownership of their own development. that also means ensuring that half a billion of small farmers can participate meaningfully in democratically in governing their own countries. smallholders feed an estimated 80% of the population of asia
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and in africa. but these farmers often have no voice in this future. it means more specifically empowering women who are present a percentage of small ordeholde. land rights and ownership can help them to realize their potential, which in turn benefits families, communities, and these countries themselves. lastly, building a secure and interconnected gold will take a deep commitment to that final d development. this means traditional government commitments, but also private sector elements that stimulates entrepreneurship and empowers individuals. there is a direct connection to
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the economic circumstances and its success in advancing the goals of the first three d's. that is perhaps the most critical or step toward a national and economic veltman program -- economic development program. it enables farmers to feed their families and communities and connect emerging markets and improving their livelihoods and maintaining the local economies. this leads to private sector investments. it allows further economic growth. those rising economies abroad allow for american exports and production for american farms. because this issue is the mental to the well-being of the world, i would like to --
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fundamental to the well-being of the world, i would like to spend time to talk about what it takes to achieve this balance. here are the challenges and opportunities of global development today. i came across a chart that i think really elite illustrates the global imperative -- brilliantly illustrates the difficulties that we face. it consists of two side-by-side height charts. -- pie charts. it is appropriate because it is about food. one shows the distribution of land around the world. the other shows the distribution of the world's population. many of the corresponding pie wedges are wildly disproportionate. east asia and the aesthetic contain 14% of the world's land -- east asia and
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the pacific contain 14% of the world' land. rich nations see over nutrition and poor undernutrition. 19 people to food will only become more difficult as roughly 70% of the global appellation migrates to cities by 2050. they will be further away from the food that is grown. here is another illustration. it sticks out from all of the statistics i have thrown at you. if there is one thing i hope you will remember, i hope it will be this. it is breath thetaking. a full 30%-50% for the food producers in the world rots or
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goes uneatten. that is one of the most amazing statistics i will level --ve evr digitally. -- ever articulate. the problem is getting the goods to market. roughly 85% of the food produced never crosses international borders. even the unequal distribution of april in the lance i mentioned, that is a major -- the unequal distribution in the lands that i mentioned, that is a major issue. we need to become better at moving the food. we need to do a lot more of it sustainably. the solution to those problems
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broadly speaking is a word that all four of us have mentioned in various ways. that single word is innovation. through science-based technologies, we can innovate to handle severe weather conditions and diminish resources. the benefits of science and food and innovation and its many forms are seeing each and every single day. we can connect rural farmers to extension workers and best practices with the use of mobile technology. we can enhance the nutritional content across the ingredient solutions that reduce that sick, salt, and sugar content. -- fats, salt, and sugar con
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tent. thanks to the great work of fa rmers, they're using solutions such as gps technology and using fewer inputs. innovation is not just about science. sentence innovation is about creative collaboration and partnership that provides -- sometimes innovation is about creative collaboration and partnership. the food index is a tool that measures the core indicators that drive food security, affordability, availability, polly, and safety -- quality, and safety across countries. the index can tell us why some countries are more prone to
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food insecurities than others. innovation also comes in simple forms that result from simply new perspectives. linda gates recently took during an npr interview -- joked during an npr interview. cks as a mosquito repellent. idea.rned out to be a good on similar method is being used. feeding an unequal world with a growing population and shrinking resources will require big ideas, both big and small. we need to pay attention to
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innovation and photosynthesis as they do in photo sharing. if they want u.s. to be the hub of this innovation, a need to do much more to support agricultural development. we'll need serious public and private investment in research and new technologies. despite wasting all of that food, perhaps only 5% i research today those to studying postharvest loss prevention. we cannot invest in r&d and hope that problems will just sell themselves. there are three ways that we can do a better job to fertilize the fields, so to speak. those three leg supporting this tripod of innovation and collaboration and education and regulation. let's start with collaboration.
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if we have any hope of overcoming the difficulties of distance and drought and disease, we must reject the cyl o stakeholders and build enduring readerships with productivity. let's leave the cylos. that means strengthening relationships between foundations and farm activists. it means requiring that we all come together at all levels. this cannot be a top-down exercise either. it means understanding so we incorporate local cultures in our efforts rather than working against them here a.
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we should adopt a strategy of care efforts. there is a great story about teaching chicken farmers to become ductal farmers. she says she does that for one simple reason -- ducks swim. these cross-cultural partnerships can invest in better seats and better storage and farm to market roads, bridges, and rallies. -- railways. they can expand agricultural markets. be the future program is one example of this collaboration.
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it is supported by the rockefellers and the gates foundation. african-led partnerships while safeguarding the environment. in one village, they sold local farmer sees an increased his crop yield 150%. another promising example is the effort for it project. it brought together african donors the private sector and research institutions and other organizations. it is a multimillion dollar effort. there is increases of vitamin a and zinc.
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this crap is significant -- crop is significant. but it has little nutritional value. it is uniquely suited to adapt to the african i meant to withstand drought. -- that is meant to withstand drought. they wanted improve the diets of 500 million people. they rely on it as a dietary staple. these are the kinds of globally connected and locally grounded collaborations that we will need to succeed in the coming century. the scaling back of these efforts requires investment and resources from the global
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community. everyone to unleash our innovative spirit, it will take more than collaboration. we will need significant, sustained educational levels. i do not mean stem education and the like. of course, technical education is crucial. and sent them talk about engaging this six and advocating sound -- engaging the skeptics and advocating. there is an unfortunate divide today between the rural world and the rest of the world. we have seen in our own lives and work. they are disconnected from food consumers. the secretary speaks about the need to bring the sides closer together. he is right.
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american agricultural activity is through the roof. they tell me about their yield per acre. almost 10 times what it is in africa. because of technology, they can do things with the crops that the grandparents never dreamed of doing. one of the few drawbacks of our productivity is that 1% of the american population feeds the 99%. the consumer is far separated from the producer. does not understand what it takes to get the product fresh for the supermarket. lays potato chips rework their packaging to include an image of a potato being sliced into potato chips. they did that because they
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conducted a survey that said lays virginia digits were not made from potatoes. chips were not made f rom potatoes. many have become wary of the food supply. the golden rice story represents a good example. developed over a decade ago, golden rice, and inadequate modified -- genetically modified which the body converts to vitamin a. the acceptance of golden rice remains uncertain despite published research that suggested golden rice has a potential to help millions if not tens of millions of children who suffer from vitamin a deficiencies. rice is a staple food crop.
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given how much we need to improve productivity to avoid a catastrophe and address issues of over and undernutrition, we do not have the luxury of ruling out solutions that are safe, nutritious, and can improve the security. we need to embrace all of agriculture from the small farms that feed communities to the large farms that feed the world. as former presidents and jimmy carter one set, responsible biotechnology is not our enemy. hunger and starvation are. i could not agree more. we also need to educate and inspire our young people to help feed the world by only these agricultural innovations. we should be better at integrating agriculture into classrooms whether it is trips to local farms or math problems
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dealing with irradiation. we can boost efforts by groups to teach our kids to be leaders and feeders of the 21st-century. while many college graduates are struggling to find jobs, i've easily read the agricultural students are not only writing jobs, they are fending off multiple -- i have read that agricultural students are not only finding jobs, they are fending off multiple offers. use all the tools at the disposal. train well. inspire for the significance of the task at hand. finally, we must extend our collaboration and education efforts. it can be done in a smart
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regulatory framework. we need a 21st-century system that holds true to our values. the agricultural and science industry is $125 billion industry. supporting nearly 2.5 million jobs with much more possible. it has been one of the few right spots in the economic downturn. scientists are improving a scoop of rice that can survive heavy flooding. it is astonishing. it is often the case that industry is innovating faster than systems are able to respond. it can take as long as a decade, $250 million to bring crop
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protection products to market. they can take as long as 20 years and up to 150 million dollars to discover and commercialize biotechnology trade like pesticide resistance. we can establish a science-based regulatory system, one that respects health and environmental concerns and gives confidence to consumers and insurers more predictable timelines. when we do, innovation will just be the beginning. there are innovations yet to come. another former president right eisenhower commented that farming was easy when your power as a pencil and you are 1000 miles from a cornfield. it is true. it is simple for a speaker to toss out some notions, but do not take my recommendations of
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grain without a grain of salt. i have spent a fair bit of time reflecting on these issues. i believe that if we reoriented put foodr d's, security at the center, and encourage innovation through collaboration, education, and regulation, we will be moving in the right direction. that is entirely up to us. a century and a half from now, will our grandchildren's will gin live in a world where only a few are fed are one where millions have their daily bread. will another long-winded speaker point to an incredibly discovery developed in a lab this year?
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or will those seeds never be planted? never unleash the full power of productivity? i know which feature i would like to see. i bet i know what you want as well. last year, a very dear friend of mine, a mentor and champion of food for all, senator george passed away. it was a few weeks ago that we learned that open it the 16th will be stepping down here and -- pope benedict ythe 16th will be stepping down. he had met george at the vatican. pope john shook his hand. he said to him, when you meet did youer and he askes,
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feed the hungry? you can say, yes, i did. george mcgovern did say that 1000 times over. .- can say that 1000 times over even when we do not realize or knowledge it. continuing to plow ahead, and develop agricultural policies in innovative ways, they can small, -- big and small, so can all of us. thank you. [applause]
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>> wow. we have had three great addresses this morning. joe be the outlook -- gave the outlook. secretary vilsack challenged us. senator daschle gave an overwhelmingly give you to american agriculture . a lot of food for thought. our panelists will answer some of your questions. yes? no? they are in the back. so, people can line up.
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i will tell you what, let's take a question from one of the students in the front. ok. yeah. i think a mike is coming up. come to this woman in the front corner. thank you. go ahead. >> my name is travis. and undergraduate student.
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my question is for all of you. trade barriers, getting food to her needs to go. what is the greatest -- where food needs to go. what is the greatest challenge we are facing today? >> who wants to start? >> good. you will hear better answers as i get a chance to think about mine. i would say increasing productivity -- senator daschle gave a great speech on theat. look at population growth and
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the challenges of things like climate change. it is a challenge. that is where the research money .eeds to go t hear you >> i agree with joe. we know the challenges that are out there. we know of the tremendous talent that it will take to harness resources to be the challenges di. their lives there lies the biggest opportunity. the innovation is potentially there and directed toward meeting the extraordinary, graphic -- meetings. that is a big part of this. >> i think the biggest challenge
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is figuring out ways in which what happens in rural parts of this country and around the world can be appreciated and understood and supported. in order for us to have increased productivity, we need to have young people wanting to farm. we need young people interested in the research that is important and necessary to figure out how to do more with less. we need to have leaders willing to invest resources to allow us to continue to promote goods and do the research that is needed. i fear that the biggest challenge is that the gap that exists today in this country between those who live in cities and suburbs and those who raise families in rural areas -- i think we have invented turn a
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corner on this -- i think we have begun to turn a corner on this. far too often, agriculture talks to itself and fights with itself and conflicts with itself instead of conveying a positive message and strategically engaging with folks outside of agriculture so that there is a greater acceptance and understanding of the importance. the combination of our comments, i think that is the biggest challenge. >> on the opportunity side, senator daschle, it was interesting to talk about a 13- year-old who will be a farmer and 2025. you said "she." i'm interested in the changing demographics.
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30% of the farm operators are women. 19% increase over the reviews census. -- previous census. they would be widows determining the lands. that is an interesting eternity. -- opportunity. i know our next question is from a young woman. >> good morning. my name is venus. i am studying nutrition. my question is for tom daschle and tom vilsack. in regard to the regulatory process and how that is limited to the new innovations that have
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come out and implemented, what challenges and are there any plans that have been discussed at this point? it can be impactful and meaningful. >> well, we have begun the process of trying to shorten the amount of time it takes. one of the opportunities we have seized from the fiscal challenges that we face is encouraging folks at usda to look at processing improvement. we have started with a biotech regulatory process. when i came into this office, and took over 190 days to make a decision.
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today that is less than 365 days. we have taken roughly those days out through process improvement. the second challenge is to grin i see in with everyone -- the second challenge is synchronizing with everyone else. we want to begin the process of synchronizing with china. we completed our process before they even begin their process. we need to agree where to begin. theirill likely end process when we end ours. reflects the difference of sophistication of the regulatory process. rest assured we are looking at ways to streamline the process.
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even if we do, it is time- consuming. i applaud the secretary and his team for the remarkable address they have made attending -- attempting to adjust the challenges that you have articulated. we always try to find innovation. it is an ongoing process. there is noe end to that challenge. -.ere are three p's ridership -- partnership, we had to work in a private and public sector environment. back in move the process forward. -- we need to move that process forward. the next is be pragmatic.
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>> good morning. i'm from san diego state university. my question is for secretary vilsack. live in a rural county intel of anya -- in a rural county of california. 20% unemployment. how can we use the $5.1 billion that we produce to help the community? it is a poor county. what can we do to help those people get more? >> there are several things. it is important for us to continue to expand market opportunity so the 5 billion become 6 billion and then 7 billion.
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it is one of the benefit of our current efforts that every dollar we invest at usda generates additional opportunity. secondly, it is important to look for ways in which we can expand markets by using products differently. whatever residue may result from that product, virtually every crop has crop residue. there is plant material. how can we convert those into farm are commodities and ingredients? -- far more commodities and ingredients? how to use those resources more effectively to produce chemicals? i have been in a factory were
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core and converted into a plastic bottle -- where corn was converted into a plastic bottle. there are amazing opportunities. are amazing opportunities here. there has to be a commitment to the community. we have a thing called strike force where we are focusing on core areas in the country. taking our teams there and making sure all the resources and partnerships the center talked-about are being utilized -- the senator talk about are being utilized. folks are discouraged with government because they have not seen the help and assistance. with a strike force, we are beginning to develop new markets and to support and strengthen some communities.
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the president has proposed a real focus on providing intensive care to these communities that have high unemployment and persistent poverty. we started that with a strike force and we will see more of that. >> i have time for two more questions. >> my name is justin taylor. i met secretary vilsack in vietnam. after the past few years it seems the nation has been involved in a debate about health care. i am struck by the way that we as an agricultural community have not been a part of that conversation on a national level about the relationship
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between the diet and health care in the united states. i would like to hear from the leaders of the agricultural community -- how can we be better engaged in that conversation? what can we do going forward to move that conversation in our direction? >> the has been a concerted effort at usda on this issue. perhaps it has not been couched in quite the same way but there is a deep concern about the health of the nation. it is one of the reasons why we put our my plate initiative to simplify what the the plate looks like. with half of the plate with fruit and vegetables and the other half protein and so forth. we have tried to re-formulate the school lunch program to
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provide more in gary and whole grains and less fat and sodium and sugar. we improved tie wic -- the wic program for more healthful choices. we have done a study suggesting they are not as expensive as some people think they are. we have expanded opportunities to use snap cards at farmers' markets. we are looking at several other and as this to enhance on that -- several other initiatives to enhance on that. also dealing with the obesity and hunger issue. there are twin evils. too many of our youngsters are suffering from either one of those and they do not perform as well in school.
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they have chronic diseases that they take into adulthood which obviously and he's their quality of life and increases health care costs. and we have a super tracker -- we have a super tracker program that provides information on how to make healthy life choices. it is on our web site. i get an e-mail from them once every couple of weeks, asking whether i am doing what i said was going to do -- more fruits and vegetables. a think you will see a bit more promotion of that in the upcoming months as the -- as march is school nutrition month. we have seen a dramatic increase in community gardens in school gardens. i often comment that i appreciate the first lady get a lot of attention on her garden.
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we now have 1800 people's gardens throughout the united states and these are usda sponsored efforts. we have donated nearly 3 million pounds a produce to food kitchens and banks. we do have 1,800 complement regards. >> -- complimentary gardens. >> i think we all have to recognize four more collectively know we do today how much of a challenge we have in changing our health care system to a wellness' system. that means a far greater degree
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of attention to exercise as well as nutrition. nutrition has two component -- the combination of foods we eat but also a factor of our portions. our portions are so much bigger and we have to begin to address that part of it as well. the caloric intake for children has led to a situation where life expectancy is going down in the country. we can turn that around. but it will take a lot more education and a concerted effort around nutrition and taking personal responsibility for one's health. and a wellness system rather than the health system gary . >> the last question. >> i am from fresno, california.
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this question is for the entire panel. it keys off the questions of health care and food wastage. has the usda had any discussion recently about introducing some higher food grades in the areas products? when you look at cheese, a 40 pound block of cheddar, or will we look at cotton, there are only a number of rades but when we look at how various items are grown, there are ways to grow that produce and commodities in ways that give a better quality than the grade a standards. any discussion on that? incentivizee can growers to grow a premium
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product that will be sold as a fresh product as opposed to be ing on an average basis and the processing market? >> i will take a crack at that. i gained 15 minutes of fame for changing the grades of swiss cheese. everyone was making fun of me. they became the story of a government run amok. it was important because of help with the slicing machines and the swiss cheese industry. anyhow, these great standards are things we were in collaboration with with industry. we are always anxious for industry to come up with innovations in their standards
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that we helped oversee. as a partnership -- that is a partnership that we are always working on. >> i would add, in order for partnerships to work, there has to be a constructive conversation. unfortunately, all to often folks will be encouraging conflict instead of collaboration. yesterday i had a great conversation with leaders in the organic world who were basically making teh case that -- the case that organics are different than general commodities. and because they're different, the systems we have that usda where we try to apply it insurance, for example, or regulatory systems, may not recognize the uniqueness of organics. and that we need to be thinking
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differently in creating different structures and systems. it was a very constructive conversation. folks came to the table with this is a problem for us and we are not complaining about it, we are just pointing out that this is a problem and we look like you to think about it. that is a very constructive way to approach a problem. many more of that type of discussion -- we need more of that type of discussion rather than the feeling that government is the enemy. it is not. it is a facilitator, helper. one of the great things about usda is almost all lend themselves to greater collaboration. i think there is a growing recognition that the diversity of agriculture needs to be celebrated. it is not something to be concerned about.
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our systems need to be put in place to promote that diversity because it will create more economic opportunity encourage more people to be excited about all types of agriculture. >> ladies and gentlemen, we have coffee in the foyer. please thank our wonderful palace this morning. [applause] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] >> tonight on c-span, a look at k-12 education and vouchers and charter schools at 8:00. education researcher david figlio on the pros and cons of vouchers. johnt are joined by cavanugh.
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on the next washington journal, a conversation with a survivor of the 2007 virginia tech shooting. he is now with the brady sander to prevent gun violence. then a look at cyber attacks emanating from china. our guest is john reed of foreign-policy magazine. also at discussion on saving for retirement. washington journal is life every day on c-span at 7:00 a.m. eastern. >> if blocade is the principal naval strategy of the note -- of the northern states, that of the southern state is commerce. kagame on a pivot right between the masked. if you are going after merchant ships, one is all you need. if you caught a merchant ship, come alongside it put a prize crew on board, take it to a port where a prize court judge could adjudicate it, sell it at
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auction and you got to keep all the money. but because private hearing depends on the profit motive, the ship owner paid the man, the ship itself, he expects a return on his money. the crew expected prize money. without family ports where they could be condemned and then sold, you cannot make a profit on private hearing. therefore it died out almost immediately. last about three months, slightly longer. maritime entrepreneurs found they could make more money blockade running. >> a look at the civil war at sea, saturday night at 10:00 eastern, part of american history tv. this weekend on c-span3. >> from the start we told the board that the approach we were going to take was
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straightforward. we were sent there to fix gm, that was. the was go make this thing a viable company again. so we were all focused and brought the message we are going to design, build, and sell the world's best vehicles. we need your support and we need your input. so we changed a few things about the board meeting. we shorten them considerably. we stayed away from the details and did not get in the weeds on how you build a car but the biggest questions of financing, more routes, positioning. the board was very supportive of that. we kept them informed and we just took off. >> leading general motors through bankruptcy, former chairman and ceo ed whitacre on american turnaround sunday at 9:00. look for more bok tv online.
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-- morebook tv online. >> the national governors' association holds its meeting this weekend in washington. it starts with an opening news conference from the delaware governor jack markell. live on c-span at 10:00 eastern followed by a discussion on deploying -- employing people with disabilities. more and the national governor'' association sunday starting at 9:30 eastern. more about the initiative on this link -- on kempthorne disabled people. and then a discussion with connecticut's governor. monday, a conversation with dr. oz on healthy eating. live at 9:00 a.m. eastern on c- span2. >> at the white house today,
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press secretary jay carney said the president will absolutely not withdraw his nomination of judge hegel for defense chuck hagel oc f for defense secretary . also said the president has called john boehner and senate minority leader mitch mcconnell to discuss the sequestration budget cuts that take effect march 1. >> technical difficulties. i apologize. pretty good stuff. the chart behind me -- you will be graded. the chart behind me you can find
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in a link on the post we just put up justwhiteh ouse.v -- just put up on whitehouse.gov. it is a refresher about the president's plans to eliminate the sequester and reduce our deficit, beyond the one called for by the sequestered. it will be familiar because the plan has been on the table and on offer for some time. thatow and you know leaders in congress are aware of this because they were on the receiving end of that offer. the offer remains on the table. in this chart, a couple of interesting facts. from 2009 when the deficit was the largest as a result of the great recession, we have seen a
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decrease in the size of the deficit that represents the largest reduction since the end of world war ii. what you see beyond that in the projections, calculations based on cbo, is what would happen to the deficit as a share of gdp if the president's plan, the offer to speaker boehner, were implemented. we would begin a that the 2015 and reduced further reduced2013, beginning in 2015 to the deficit we think through the decade, it would come under 3%. throughnning in 2015 t the decade, it would come under 3%. i encourage you to take a look at the documents and charts
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online. many of you have asked when the president is going to or has most recently spoken to republican leaders on the hill. he placed calls earlier today to senator mcconnell and speaker boehner. had good conversations but i have no further reed out of those calls for you. the president will be visiting newport news, virginia, next week to highlight the fact that there will be real world impacts to the implementation of the sequester, if that takes place. if republicans choose to allow that to happen. there will be jobs on the line if the sequester takes place. and the president will call on republicans in congress to agree
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to avoid the sequestered because it is an unnecessary inflicted wound on the economy at that verdict take place. >> -- if that were to take place. >> can you talk about whether the white house agrees with the principles on the program? >> this is another sign of progress of bipartisanship. we are encouraged by it. at the same time, the agreement he refer to is an agreement on principles. we remain focused on encouraging the senate to develop a comprehensive bill. we are very focused on the bipartisan effort underway in the senate. the president thinks that represents a real good chance at achieving something that has been a goal of republicans and democrats, as well as americans across the country and
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businesses for quite some time. we hope that process continues. we urge the senate to continue the good work they have done so far. this is part of that. >> they also talked about the need for a new federal bureau to report to the public on different industries. would that be useful? >> i cannot have a response to some of the details of this agreement on principles. we think it represents a continuation of the progress we have seen what we're focused on the bill with the senate. hopefully produced relatively soon as part of this bipartisan effort. >> i want to ask for gasoline prices. a skyrocketed over the past month or so. -- they sky rocketed over the past month or so the . what concerns the white house
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have on the rising impact on the economy and whether consideration is being given to take the edge off speculation in the market. >> suppress the understand the impact of high gas prices on families, -- the president understands the impact of high gas prices on family ies. which is why we are focused on increasing domestic production of oil and gas, deficiencies of the cars we drive, investing in alternative energy advanced technology is with a goal of reducing our reliance on foreign oil. we will ensure that consumers are protected area less vulnerable. in the last year sent the president has taken office, we of seen dramatic increases -- we
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have seen dramatic increases in domestic production of oil and natural-gas. we need to make sure that progress continues. last week, crude oil production increased by 790,000 barrels a day between 2011 and 2012, the largest increase in annual output since the beginning of u.s. commercial crude oil production since 1859. we expect crude oil to continue rising over the next few years. on your last question, i have no announcements are comment on the sprow. we keep all options on the table. >> how concerned is the white house about the attacks
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[inaudible] >> we do all we can to make sure the consumers have been protected. that has been the case all along. our overall focus has to be on the need to inflate ourselves from these spikes in market prices by pursuing and all the above energy policy, one that increase domestic production, increases the production of alternative energy sources so that we are not subject to the ups and downs of the global markets. >> you talking to refineries at about things they can do to make a difference? >> i did not have any conversations like that to read out to you. >> you said the president is looking for a bipartisan agreement, the senate on immigration reform.
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but the president has laid out his own principles on immigration reform and it does not include mention of a program for a guest workers to come to the u.s. the white house has allowed the chamber to negotiate with the aflcio. i cannot remember the last time outside groups have negotiated publicly for the white house. >> do you remember the last administration? >> so you are are comparing yourself to the bush administration? >> no. my point is when you see the chamber coming together with the aflcio, that represents significant progress. our interest is not to dictate but to see the bipartisan effort move forward. we view this as more indication of the progress and we will keep our eye on the ball.
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>> that the president endorse a program for low-skilled workers as part of immigration program? >> we will see what the senate produces. we agree with this on principle. i will not pre-judge a bill that has not been written. >> what about the letter calling for the president to withdraw the nomination of chuck hagel to be defense secretary? >> there is so much i have to say about that. let me point you to senator shelby's comments this morning, that he will support center confirmation. others has said it will support an up or down votes next week. even senator hatch said i cannot think bishop filibuster. -- think we should filibuster.
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some republicans put political posturing ahead of our nation's security. for the first time, they filibustered and nominee, and member of their own party. it decorated combat veteran and the right leader for our troops. a clear majority supports senator hagel's confirmations. so today's actions run against the majority will of the senate and against our national interest. we believe senator hagel will be confirmed but the with the time is of consequence. there are 66,000 men and women in uniform in afghanistan and we need our new secretary of defense on the job to be part of the decisions that have to be made as we bring about more to a responsible and. this week in brussels, the
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united states will meet with our allies to talk about the condition in afghanistan. our next secretary of defense should be there. he is not because of this political gamesmanship you have seen. we urge the senate confirm center hagel and to confirm john brennan and get them to work. the nation needs them to be at work. rex to be clear, he will not be withdrawn? rex out slipknot -- >> absolutely not. >> the secretary of defense said is sequestered cuts go into effect, we would turn into a second-rate power. does the president agree america will become a second-rate power? >> the president agrees with his secretary of defense, his
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current as well as his future. he agrees with the speaker of the house and numerous republicans who have said on the record that the onerous cuts in the sequestered to defense will harm our national security. it will reduce our readiness and result in a reduction of flight hours and have already resulted in changes identification for aircraft carriers these are real world consequences. also sending furlough notices to the men and women who work every day to protect united states and our citizens. the consequences are real. what we see these days is an indication from republicans that they do not really care, that
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they are anticipating the sequester will go into effect and they are not willing to deal with the ahmad book -- to deal with the american public's support. they are not willing to protect the jobs of what the cbo predicts could be up to 750,000 americans by asking oil and gas companies to forgo their taxpayer subsidies. they are not willing to do that. this is very disappointing. >> on the military spending, even if the cuts go into effect, the u.s. will spend more than china, russia, all of europe combined. if we are a second-rate power, who is first rate?
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>> i did not think the issue is the language used to describe it. the impact will be negative. will harm our national security and that as a problem. it will harm thousands of children thrown off of head start. it will harm children who depend on mental health services. seniors who depend on services. it will harm first responders across the country who will get furlough notices are layoff notices. teachers and the like. the consequences of this are real. there seems to be willing ness, unfortunately, among republicans on the hill, to reject the opinions of the vast majority of the american people, reject the
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modern propositions put forth by the president and to adopt this approach that says we would rather protect these special interest tax breaks rather than take action to keep those americans in their jobs. >> what do you say to americans who have had to make adjustments in their own family budgets and to think that cutting 3% of an overall budget, 10% of a specific part of the budget, that the only way to do that is these cuts that would jeopardize national security. how do you -- what you say to -- >> the sequester was specifically designed to be so loathsome that congress would be compelled to compromise her.
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that was the idea. and coming up with the $1.20 trillion in deficit reduction in a way that protected national- security and vital interests like the children in headstart, teachers and first responders. the point was for it to be this bad so congress would never go along with it. unfortunately, there has been a change of heart in congress and an embrace of an approach that has a real-world consequences for real people who are sitting at home, or will be tonight, after work wondering if they will have a job in a month or two. >> the president called the republican leaders. can you suggest he made an offer or something? >> we all know what's on the table, what has been on the table for the president.
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we all know he supports the efforts of senate and house democrats to pass legislation that would postpone the sequestered. again, and manufactured crisis that is unnecessary. and allow congress to take action on further and broader deficit reduction in a balanced way. >> [inaudible] >> the president spoke with senator mcconnell and the speaker. i have no content to read out to you of those conversations. the president speaks with leaders and other members of the senate and house. sometimes we do not read out -- again, there are a number of issues that need to be discussed. the sequester is one of them and i cannot have any characterization of those phone calls. if we take as an assumption the
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notion that democrats would prefer to deal with our deficit by raising revenues and republicans would prefer to deal with the deficit by cutting spending, including entitlement reforms and that the tough tauruses for democrats is to go with spending cuts and entitlement reforms -- the tough choices for democrats is to go with spending cuts and entitlement reforms, i would encourage you to look at him as compromised. who has lead democrats to go along with middle of the road, common sense of plans that include entitlement reforms as well as revenues. as the president. what we have not yet seen is a single proposal by the republicans to deal with the sequestered for our overall deficit challenge. it represents the kind of balance the american people want in a deficit reduction plan
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that want their leaders in washington to embrace. that is a fact. this president has demonstrated again and again in his submission to the super committee, in his budget, a willingness to compromise. and to meet with republicans halfway. but you come halfway and you aren't -- you're negotiating partner states where they are, that makes it very difficult. you need compromise from the other side. there are a lot of issues at stake here. >> the administration is weighing whether to intervene in the prop 8 case before the supreme court treaty tell us more about that? >> i can tell you that decisions about whether to -- about supreme courses -- supreme court
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cases are made at the department of justice. i would refer you there. i have that -- i have no comment on this case. >> we cuff understand the president was thinking of playing in. -- we understand the p resident was thinking of weighing in. >> he has an opinion of proposition 8 as policy but we have no comment and nothing to say at this point about the initiative. >> but they are thinking about filing -- >> i do not have a hint for you either way. >> does the present think he is responsible at the sequester six place -- responsible if the
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sequester takes place. >> the president is very concerned, that is why he has put forward compromise proposals again and again the republicans in the hopes we can achieve something in terms of deficit reduction that hits the mark of $4 trillion. his plan exceed the market. that would be the right thing for our economy. we can do it if we follow this deterrent -- this blueprint that his plan represents and is in all the bipartisan proposals we have seen. we can do it in a way that prevents the kind of hit to our economic growth and job creation, which the sequester would bring about. his feeling of responsibility
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is represented in the fact that he continues to offer solutions rather than attempting to engage in word games about whose idea the sequester was. a match and if republicans but half the amount of effort in defining a solution as they have to come up with cash tax -- as opposed to coming up with hashtags at odds with the facts. they all voted for the sequestered and a carriage their membership to vote for it. they did such a good job they got an overwhelming majority to vote. the speaker said he was so pleased he got 98% of what he wanted out of that deal. there is some responsibility to do what the president has done which is to hear what the american people are saying which
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is please, compromise. please do not adopt positions that represent a my way or the highway approach. >> there does not seem to be any progress. what strategy [inaudible] >> the president continues to support efforts to avert this unnecessary many factors crisis to ensure congress does not foolishly allowed the sequestered to take effect and cause americans across the country to receive for low and lay off notices. -- to receive furlough or lay off notices. he will continue to employ or republicans to reconsider their position. they do not care enough about a commission to ask for those to
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give a tax break -- to give up a tax break. >> chris van hollen says these talks of the last best chance to resolve this issue. does the president share that view? >> we have been cleared it united states is determined to prevent iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. we believe there is still time to resolve this issue diplomatically. we hope the iranian regime will make the decision to come to the february 26 top to refer to with p5 plus 1, prepared to discuss other can be progress addressing the international community's concerns. we remain ready to sdo so. iran has a choice. if it fails to address the concerns, i will face more pressure and become increasingly isolated -- it will face more
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pressure and become increasingly isolated. what we have said and remains true today is the window remains opn for this to the result diplomatically but it will not be opened indefinitely. we have been very clear with the iranians about that. we encourage them to come to these talks ready to speak seriously about abiding by their international obligations. saddam panetta secretary panetta's the -- panetta said the cuts would be significant but thinks this is a once in a lifetime chance to have real cuts -- howard dean. >> we disagree.
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that.ve not heard many say we disagree with that proposition. >> yesterday you said the reason why he did not put this out before the election was that was not 10 days before implementation. >> the point is we are now very close to implementation but i would refer you to omb and others about how that process works. >> we are under 10 days now. the pentagon briefed yesterday saying the furloughs among civilian employees would not take place until late april. >> i think the process begins, an administrative process for you and not something that will begin and notices began to go out but i would refer you to the pentagon for details.
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>> you have to cut into other things. >> each agency is dealing with the serious implications of the sequester to their budgets. the defense is one of those agencies that will be hit very hard but i refer you to the agencies themselves about how they are managing the process. >> the president got good news because rick scott said he now wants to expand medicaid. he is one of several -- several republican governors who have looked flopped on that. how does the white house review that? >> we are focused on implementation of the portable care act. we think the decisions made by governors across the country to move forward with implementation recognize that the benefits
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here for providing affordable health care to citizens of their state are very worthwhile. and we will continue to work with governors and states around the country to bring about the implementation of the portable care act. -- of the affordable care act. but we are going about the business of implementing this very important piece of legislation. >> western diplomats are saying the p5 plus 1 are prepared to make significant new offers. can you shed any light on that? rex i can i get into any details on what they will represent -- but it will present other than to say the group is united in its approach and is ready to have a serious discussion.
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we simply call on the iranians to arrive at those talks with the intention of having them be substances and focus on issues that are concerned to the international community. actions taken by iran and refusing to abide by international obligations. they are why iran -- a regime that is having a real negatieve impact on the iranian economy and its political structure. there is a way to avoid the sanctions and that is to abide
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by the process where they will abide by their international obligations. that is the purpose of the talks. we hope they will be substantive and serious. >> [indiscernible] >> i did not know about that. what we have seen and the president has spoken about this is an evolution about this issue and extending rights to lgbt americans. the president feels very strongly about that. this is not news i was aware of but it is in concert with the president's views. >> you said if sequestration
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were to happen, it would erode the progress made to keep the country out of recession. the congressional black caucus had said if that 750,000 number is correct, it would decimate and put americans back in recession. that has a large number. what do you say about that? >> it is hard to predict and there are technical ways to define recession . what we know looking at the cbo's analysis and by other advisers, the impact of the implementation of the sequestered on gdp would be something on the order of mi nus point 6% of gdp. we are not ready to predict what that means in terms of recession but we know it would do harm to our recovery and it would -- and
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reduce job creation but about by the ford growth, i would have an extremely harmful impact on jobs. we agree with the concern expressed. that is why the president put forward and supports proposals that represents a balanced approach that we need to take to eliminate the sequestered and reduce our deficit in a way that allows our economy to grow. for it a far reach democrats this i -- democrats to say this would lead to recession? >> i leave that for the analyst but what we know with unfortunate certainty is the impact of sequester would be negative on the economy.
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>> the boston globe had a story that the state department is considering reviewing whether cuba should be on terf. >> we have no changes in our approach our policy to cuba to announce. not that i am aware of. >>have you had any conversations with senator leahy down in cuba? , i have't know thatm not. the president has all of mr. g -- the president has followed mr. gross' case. he is in his 4th year of
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sentencing. he facilitated communications between's jewish community and the rest of the world. he is a husband, father, and dedicated professional with a long history of providing support to underserved communities. we call on the cuban government to release mr. gross. >> is there anything the president can do by executive order for sequester? >> it would be welcomed development if the president were allowed the that is not at present -- that is not a power the president has. it is up to congress to act. congress chose to write the sequestered into law with overwhelming support from
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republicans because it felt sequester would be so onerous that it would never come to pass. congress is responsible for making sure it does not come to pass. the president has provided a series of proposals on how to eliminate the sequester and ensure the effects are never felt by families across the country. those proposals represent the balance that the american people strongly support. thus far " we have seen from the republicans -- thus far what we have seen from the republicans is a seeming desire to clout the american people's will. >> you can't -- he can't legislate but can he mandate? >> in this case, it is not in
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his power to eliminate the sequestered. >> syria -- [indiscernible] do you still believe the administration's policy is the right one regarding syria? >> it is still our policy that we are providing nonlethal assistance to the opposition. we are providing substantial humanitarian aid to the syrian people and are working with allies to put pressure on the assad regime to bring about a future the syrian people deserve. we are constantly about a waiting the situation in syria and our policies with regard to syria. it is important to know we are the lead provider with
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humanitarian assistance to the syrian people. we have worked with the opposition as the worst about a feature in syria that is better for the syrian people -- about a future in syria that is better for the syrian people. we are constantly reviewing our policy. >> does that mean the expect change in the near future? >> i am saying we constantly review every option that could accelerate a political transition. the options include whether the provision of lethal assistance would hasten our goal. we must assess whether the action will change assad's calculus and hasten a transition. we also must consider whether it would provoke a wider regional
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conflict and endanger our allies are great risks that weapons will fall into the hands of extremists. there are no easy answers. the president has said he wrestles with these decisions. we will continue to analyze every feasible option that would accelerate a political transition. >> what is the president doing to reassure nato and allies [inaudible] >> i mentioned in reference to the politically driven stalling of the confirmation of senator hagel, we haev important business to do. -- we have important business to do.
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it is something we discussed. secretary panetta has talked about it. it is a concern but i do not have any specific conversations to read to you. >> [inaudible] it seems a we're just hearing about this. general odierno did not prepare for a vote because they did not think it happened. >> the answer to your question is no, . we are all hopeful and remained consistent that republicans did not make the choice to allow sequestration to happen. that they choose instead to come up with a balanced plan for a great to a balanced plan to postpone or eliminate the sequester. we have known what the impact of
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these cuts would be. page after page of republicans citing the harm that would come if sequestered to take affect. [inaudible] i . would refer you to each agency. >> it seems the weapons -- [indiscernible] >> you should ask the defense department. i do not have any specifics. >> how is the president going to use his mixing with them to
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bring the sequester to an end? >> i don't want to pre-judge conversations the president will have with the governors assembling here in washington as part of their annual meeting. the fact is sequestered is of great concern to governors across the country. i am sure that will be a topic of conversation. implementation of the affordable care act is a topic of conversation that is likely to be raised because of the work being done and the progress taking place on that effort. one of the things we have talked about this week of great interest to governors is the need to invest in our infrastructure. governors of both parties are interested in our efforts to invest in fix it first, the
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infrastructure development, going after a project that can help put people back to work. this is the kind of thing that has been traditionally an area of agreement between republicans and democrats and labor and the chamber of commerce, management. an area of agreement between all regions of the country. it should be an area of agreement now. so that will also be a topic of conversation. thank you. do not forget to read the blog post. [captioning performed by